Donny has so lowered our expectations that he is given effusive credit if he ever performs a routine function even adequately.

Albert Hunt: The Age of Trump Is ‘Defining Deviancy Down’

When the president seems inept or corrupt, we shrug. If he ever fumbles through adequately, he is praised.

Pat Moynihan, the great politician-intellectual, warned about the dangers of “defining deviancy down,” in which worse and

Albert Hunt

worse behavior comes to be accepted as the norm.

The late New York senator’s essay, almost a quarter century ago, was about crime and family structure. Today it applies to the Trump presidency: the danger that chronic lying, ignorance of history and policy, petty invective, racial demagoguery and personal greed fall within the realm of the norm.

If President Donald Trump gives a speech that is reasonably coherent or takes a sensible action, suddenly even some critics treat it as a momentous occurrence. But wait a moment. That’s actually what presidents are supposed to do.

When he commits one of his especially egregious acts, the news media world too often fall into one flawed approach or another. Either they downshift into partisan mode — in which those who constantly attack him continue to do so, and those who critique his critics continue their barrage — or they pursue a misbegotten mission for “balance.”

The sudden firing of the FBI director, James Comey, last week gave us a perfect example. The move was shocking because Comey was leading the investigation into whether any Trump operatives colluded with the Kremlin to affect the American presidential election.

Virtually everything the White House said for two days was untrue: that the action had nothing to do with the Russian probe; that the president fired Comey only because of the recommendation of the attorney general, who supposedly was recusing himself from the matter, and the deputy attorney general; that the president was shocked at “atrocities” Comey committed in an earlier investigation of Hillary Clinton; and that morale was terrible at the FBI. It isn’t clear whether White House aides, and Vice President Mike Pence, lied or whether they were lied to by the president.

It gets worse. Roger Stone, a longtime dirty trickster who has been close to Trump starting three decades ago courtesy of the nefarious Roy Cohn, boasted that he advised the president to fire Comey. Stone, who last year predicted it “soon will be (John) Podesta’s time in the barrel” seven weeks before the Russian-spawned leak of the Clinton chairman’s emails, is a prime suspect in the investigation.

There is one clear truth: Trump fired Comey to stifle the Russia investigation. One reason the bureau considers it a “significant investigation” is a pattern of Trump associates caught in lies about their Russian connections: foreign policy adviser Carter Page, the administration’s initial national security adviser Michael Flynn and the attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Duplicity is the norm for Trump. As a candidate he repeatedly lied. As president he has persistently peddled fiction like the crazed charge that the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower and baseless claims of widespread illegal voting.

But it is not the president alone who is defining deviancy down. It’s also how people react to his actions.

When Trump fired missiles at a Syrian airbase, the usually sensible Fareed Zakaria declared “He became President of the United States” with that action. To be president is to have a coherent policy and to pursue it. Can this administration articulate a policy on Syria or North Korea or Russia?

Clear thinking from leading voices in business, economics, politics, foreign affairs, culture, and more.

After Trump’s first address to Congress, the liberal commentator Van Jones gushed over his honoring the widow of a Navy Seal, calling it “one of the most extraordinary moments” in American politics. It was a nice touch, but not as memorable Ronald Reagan honoring the doomed Challenger space crew, or George W. Bush with a bullhorn at Ground Zero after 9/11 or Barack Obama singing “Amazing Grace” at a Charleston church after a white supremacist killed nine African-Americans at a Bible study.

(Actually one of the few memorable lines that evening was Trump’s call that “the time for trivial fights is over.” What a thought. In a tweet a few days ago, the president of the United States renewed his bickering with Rosie O’Donnell.)

This president has so lowered our expectations that he is given effusive credit if he ever performs a routine function even adequately.

James M. Perry, a great Wall Street Journal political reporter, used to worry about any would-be president who didn’t know much about history. Trump keeps demonstrating that he knows almost no history. On ethics, he and his family seems to view 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as a no-risk hedge fund to enrich themselves.

Imagine what Pat Moynihan would say.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-14/the-age-of-trump-is-defining-deviancy-down

Pope Francis skoolz “Donny two scoops” on economics, climate change, and nonviolence

The Examiner would like to note that despite the Pope’s good intentions, giving Trump books to read is the equivalent of leaving them in the orangutans pen at the zoo.

Is the Pope praying? Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. Luke 22:42

Pope Francis politely shades Trump’s climate ignorance with a parting gift

Pope Francis and Donald Trump had their much anticipated first in-person meeting on Wednesday, a 30-minute conversation in which the pope reportedly “did not smile” as he asked the president to work to bring about peace in the world. Despite concern that the two leaders — who hold diametrically opposite views on several issues — might spar during the summit, the exchange appeared to be relatively free of fireworks.

But according to the National Catholic Reporter, Francis did offer Trump a none-too-subtle parting gift as he left: copies of the pontiff’s published works on progressive economics, climate change, and nonviolence.

Almost all of the documents Francis presented to Trump conflict with the president’s agenda in some way (with the possible exception of Amoris Laetitia, a 2016 work on the Catholic church’s developing view of family life).

For example, Francis gave Trump a copy of Laudato Si’, the pope’s famous encyclical on the environment that was published in 2015.

Unlike Trump, who once claimed climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, Francis’ encyclical affirms that global warming has been confirmed by a “very consistent scientific consensus” and that humans are the cause. And while Trump has proposed budget cuts to climate initiatives and threatened to rescind America’s participation in the historic Paris Climate Accords, Francis’ Laudato Si’ insists nations take steps to reduce carbon emissions.

Almost all of the documents Francis presented to Trump conflict with the president’s agenda in some way.

“It is urgent to develop policy so that in the coming years, we drastically reduce carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gas emissions, by, for example, replacing fossil fuels and developing renewable energy sources,” a translation of the encyclical reads.

Francis also handed Trump a copy of Evangelii Gaudium, a 2013 papal exhortation that espouses a deeply progressive view of economics. In it, Francis decried the “idolatry of money” and dismissed trickle-down economics — a centerpiece of conservative monetary policy — as something that has “never been confirmed by the facts.”

Trump, on the other hand, is known to exaggerate his own extravagant wealth, and is currently pushing a budget that will bolster the wealthy while cutting programs that aid the poor.

Francis then made a point to show the president a signed copy of the message he delivered on the 2017 World Day of Peace, in which the pope lifted up nonviolence as a political method for global problem-solving.

“When victims of violence are able to resist the temptation to retaliate, they become the most credible promoters of nonviolent peacemaking,” Francis declares in the speech. “In the most local and ordinary situations and in the international order, may nonviolence become the hallmark of our decisions, our relationships and our actions, and indeed of political life in all its forms.”

The pontiff sought to drive the point home by handing Trump a medallion he often presents to world leaders, which depicts an olive tree binding together a broken rock. “I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace,” Francis said.

“We can use peace,” Trump replied.

Trump, however, has been lauded by conservatives for his willingness to use some of the largest weapons available against militants in the Middle East. He also campaigned on promises to rapidly expand the military, “bomb the hell” out of America’s enemies, and reinstitute the use of water boarding as a tactic.

As he left, Trump promised Francis he would mull over the writings, saying, “Well, I’ll be reading them.”

As they concluded, Francis moved away from policy to have a more lighthearted moment with the President, although the exact meaning appears to be lost in translation: he took First Lady Melania Trump by the hand, looked over at the president, and quipped, “What do you give him to eat?”

UPDATE: According to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the Vatican’s Secretary of State also urged Trump to keep America in the Paris climate agreement.

From Think progress

A scene from the Godfather or traditional sicilian funeral?

Despite ISIS and Trump, even more collusion and treason news comes out

Former CIA director Brennan warned FSB chief that Moscow’s election interference would backfire.

Former CIA director John Brennan said Tuesday that he personally warned the head of Russia’s intelligence service last year that Moscow’s interference in the U.S. election would backfire and cause severe damage to the country’s relationship with the United States.

Describing a previously undisclosed high-level discussion between Washington and Moscow, Brennan said in a phone conversation with the head of Russia’s domestic security service, the FSB, that “American voters would be outraged by any Russian attempt to interfere in the election.”

In congressional testimony, Brennan said that such meddling “would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement” in relations between the United States and Russia. Brennan said that the FSB chief, Alexander Bortnikov, twice denied that Russia was waging such a campaign, but said he would carry Brennan’s message to Russian President Vladi­mir Putin.

“I believe I was the first U.S. official to brace Russia on this matter,” Brennan said. His remarks came at the start of his testimony before the House Intelligence Committee as part of that panel’s ongoing investigation of a Russian influence campaign in the 2016 presidential election, as well as whether there was collusion or coordination between Moscow and members of the Trump campaign.

Brennan led the CIA during a critical period last year when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia was not only attempting to disrupt the election but was actively seeking to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help elect Trump.

Brennan was among the top officials who briefed then-President-elect Trump on that conclusion — which represented the consensus view of the CIA, the FBI and the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

Brennan became so alarmed by the Russian intervention last fall that he held classified meetings with top congressional officials to impress upon them the unprecedented nature of Moscow’s interference.

Brennan testified that he was disturbed by intelligence that surfaced last year showing a pattern of contacts between Russian agents or representatives and individuals with links to the Trump campaign. “I was aware of intelligence and information about contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns in my mind,” Brennan said. He emphasized that the information he saw did not amount to proof of collusion or cooperation between Trump associates and Russia, but said that it “served as the basis for the FBI investigation.”

With that remark, Brennan appeared to identify the point of origin of the FBI investigation that began last July – the first time that a U.S. official has provided insight into what prompted the bureau probe.

He said that the targets of those Russian approaches may not even have been aware of the nature of the contacts, because Russian services often disguise their efforts by using intermediaries. “Many times [U.S. individuals] do not know that the individual they are interacting with is a Russian,” Brennan said.

The former CIA chief is the latest in a series of senior Obama administration officials to appear publicly before Congress in hearings that have often produced damaging headlines for Trump.

Earlier this month, former acting attorney general Sally Yates testified that she expected White House officials to “take action” after warning that then-national security adviser Michael T. Flynn had misled administration officials about his contacts with Russia.

At that same hearing, former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said that Moscow’s leaders “must be congratulating themselves for having exceeded their wildest expectations with a minimal expenditure of resource,” a reference not only to the outcome of the 2016 race, but the chaos that has characterized the early months of the Trump administration.

Brennan has feuded publicly with Trump over the president’s treatment of intelligence agencies. In January, he lashed out at Trump for comparing U.S. spy agencies to Nazi secret police.

Brennan was particularly offended by Trump’s remarks during a speech at CIA headquarters on the day he was inaugurated. Trump used the CIA’s Wall of Honor — a collection of engraved stars marking lives of agency operatives killed in the line of duty — to launch a rambling speech in which he bragged about his election victory.

Brennan called the appearance “despicable” and said that Trump should be “ashamed.”

Greg Miller for The Washington Post.

 

The president reportedly attempted to enlist the head of the NSA and director of national intelligence to defend against the Russia inquiry.

Rogers NSA

Donald Trump reportedly tried, unsuccessfully, to enlist Admiral Michael Rogers, the director of the National Security Agency, and Daniel Coats, the director of national intelligence, to publicly refute the possibility of collusion after former FBI Director James Comey announced in March that the bureau is investigating potential links between Trump campaign associates and the Russian government, according to The Washington Post on Monday.

DNI Coats

Citing unnamed government officials, the Post’s Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima report that Trump asked Coats and Rogers “to publicly deny the existence of any evidence of collusion during the 2016 election.” But, according to the report, the intelligence officials turned down the ask, “which they both deemed to be inappropriate.” The White House told the Post that it would not confirm or deny the allegations.

The news follows a series of potentially damaging reports centered on Trump and the former FBI director. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that Trump asked Comey to halt a federal investigation into his former national security advisor Michael Flynn, who was ousted from the administration after making false claims about his contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and that Trump had unsuccessfully attempted to persuade Comey to pledge loyalty prior to abruptly firing him on May 9th. The White House disputes both reports.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed by the Justice Department to serve as a special counsel in the Russia investigation earlier this month. CNN reported on Monday that Mueller has already been briefed on memos drafted by Comey detailing his interactions with Trump. Monday’s Post report suggests there may be an even more extensive paper trail that could come under scrutiny as part of the investigation.

According to the Post:

Trump’s conversation with Rogers was documented contemporaneously in an internal memo written by a senior NSA official, according to the officials. It is unclear if a similar memo was prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to document Trump’s conversation with Coats. Officials said such memos could be made available to both the special counsel now overseeing the Russia investigation and congressional investigators, who might explore whether Trump sought to impede the FBI’s work.

Congressional Democrats have accused Trump of obstructing justice following reports that he attempted to intervene in the Flynn investigation and another Times report that Trump told Russian officials that he felt relieved of pressure caused by the Russia inquiry after firing Comey.

The Post’s report on Monday also contends that White House officials “sounded out top intelligence officials about the possibility of intervening directly with Comey to encourage the FBI to drop its probe of Michael Flynn.”

When Trump fired Comey, he originally cited a memo criticizing the FBI chief’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. He later openly acknowledged in an interview with NBC News that “this Russia thing” was on his mind  when he made the decision to fire Comey, who at the time had been serving as the head of the bureau probing ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.

The White House has insisted that there is no evidence of collusion. And Trump flatly denied the possibility at a press conference last week, saying “there was no collusion” with Russia. In the letter the president sent to Comey telling him he had been fired, Trump wrote that he had “greatly appreciate[d]” the FBI director “informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

Despite Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, Democrats have continued to urge the formation of an independent commission to further probe the extent of Russian involvement in the election. Those calls, and the pressure on Congress to support such a move, may grow louder now.

 

 

 

 

 

Surprise! Flynn intends to invoke his right against self-incrimination…..oops

Flynn on the hot seat

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will not be cooperating with a Senate intelligence committee investigation, according to the Associated Press. He intends to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination Monday to avoid turning over documents lawmakers have subpoenaed related to his interactions with Russian officials.
Neither the leaders of the Senate intelligence committee nor Flynn’s lawyer returned requests for comment.
Flynn resigned in February, after it was revealed that he lied about whether he had substantive contacts with the Russian ambassador before President Donald Trump took office.
Trump kept Flynn in the administration long after the White House had been alerted to his ethics issues. Before Trump’s inauguration, Flynn had told the transition team that he was under federal investigation for secretly lobbying for the Turkish government during the campaign, according to The New York Times. Even with this information, Trump named him national security adviser.
During the campaign, Flynn criticized the technology specialist who set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server for invoking his Fifth Amendment rights during a court case.

Trump has also blasted Clinton associates for pleading the Fifth, arguing, “If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”
The Senate intelligence committee has also requested documents from former Trump adviser Carter Page, who is so far refusing to cooperate. He told Business Insider Monday that he has no plans to plead the Fifth because he’s “never done anything wrong.”
Trump continued to keep Flynn on the job after Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, warned the White House that he could be subject to blackmail by the Russians for hiding his contacts with the ambassador.
The president is now under fire for reports that he urged FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation into Flynn during an Oval Office meeting in February. Trump fired Comey last week and admitted that the bureau’s Russia probe was on his mind when he did so.
The House intelligence committee also announced Thursday that it has requested documents from the Justice Department and the FBI related to Comey’s dismissal and any conversations between Trump and the former FBI director.

Amanda Terkel Huffington post

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-flynn-senate-intelligence_us_5922ea65e4b03b485cb33b4a?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

The nefarious plan to kill affordable health care without even having a vote in Congress

Trump reportedly plans to sabotage Obamacare by cutting off low-income subsidies

The move would make it harder for millions of people to buy health coverage.

Donald Trump has frequently suggested that Obamacare is “collapsing” and predicted that statewide marketplaces will soon cease to function. But if the health care law doesn’t fall off a cliff on its own, he appears more than willing to give it a push.

On Friday —amid a storm of Russia-related leaks and news of the president’s imminent departure for Saudi Arabia — Politico reported that Trump has quietly decided to end approximately $7 billion annually in cost-sharing subsidies for low-income people who purchase their health care on the Obamacare exchanges. Each year, these payments help reduce the co-payments and deductibles of approximately 7 million low-income people who get their insurance on the marketplaces.

Ending these payments wouldn’t just hurt those 7 million people. Without those subsidies to keep their lower deductible plans afloat, some insurance companies would likely exit the Obamacare marketplaces — or hike their premiums to compensate for the shortfall. The result could be a devastating ripple effect through the entire private marketplace system.

Trump has threatened to kill off the cost-sharing subsidies before, but seemed to back down after House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Democrats would be willing to shut down the government if continued payments weren’t guaranteed.

On Friday, eight concerned parties — including the American Medical Association, BlueCross BlueShield, the Federation of American Hospitals, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — sent a joint letter to the Senate leadership of both parties, urging them to pass legislation that would ensure the cost-sharing payments continue.

“The individual market is their only option for getting coverage. Unless CSRs [cost sharing reductions] are funded, a tremendous number of Americans will simply go without coverage and move to the ranks of the uninsured,” they wrote. “This threatens not just their own health and financial stability, but also the economic stability of their communities.”
https://thinkprogress.org/trump-plans-to-sabotage-obamacare-de692395121e

 

Trump reportedly wants to kill critical Obamacare subsidies, despite warnings health insurance premiums would spike: CNBC

President Donald Trump now reportedly wants to pull the plug on a big pot of Obamacare money — which could send insurance prices soaring for millions of Americans.

Trump told advisers Tuesday he wants to stop reimbursing health insurers for important Obamacare subsidies, which could spark political blowback for him and other Republicans as premiums rise, Politico.com reported.

A White House official told CNBC on Friday, “The White House has told Congress that it will make” payments to the insurers for May, “but has not made any commitment on further payments.”

“No final decisions have been made at this time, and all options are on the table,” the official said.

Insurers are obligated by the Affordable Care Act to grant the subsidies, known as cost-sharing reductions, to eligible customers.

Politico posted the story before a group including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, America’s Health Insurance Plans and the American Medical Association sent the Senate a letter urging Congress to take action to guarantee a steady stream of cost-sharing reduction funding through 2018.

“Such action would represent a strong, positive step for all consumers who buy their own insurance by eliminating the single most destabilizing factor causing double-digit premium increases for 2018,” the letter said.

The subsidies reduce the out-of-pocket charges — such as co-payments, deductibles, and coinsurance — that people have to pay when they receive health treatment, prescription medication and other medical services.

The federal government, in turn, is supposed to reimburse insurers for their cost — estimated at $7 billion this year.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has challenged the legality of the federal reimbursements in court, claiming the Obama administration was paying insurers without congressional appropriation.

A federal judge agreed with the House but stayed her ruling as the Obama administration appealed.

On Thursday, 16 Democratic state attorneys general sought to intervene in the appeal, with the goal of keeping the funding for insurers in place. Their filings said Trump is using decisions that could affect health insurance for millions of people “as little more than political bargaining chips,” according to their court filing.

On Monday, the Trump administration is scheduled to tell the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia how, or if, it will resolve the House’s lawsuit. However, as Politico noted, the administration and the House could ask Monday for the case to be put on hold for 90 days.

A staunch critic of Obamacare, Trump could order an end to the payments even as that appeal, now being handled by his administration, remains pending. But until this week it was not clear that he actually wanted to do so.

Politico reported that “many senior administration officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, are leery of ending the payments, however, because it could immediately unravel the Obamacare insurance markets and strongly discourage insurers from participating next year.”

Health analysts say insurers would be forced to hike their premium prices for individual health plans sharply to make up for the lost federal funding, while still being required to offer reduced out-of-pocket costs for lower-income customers.

In a letter Wednesday to Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and The Center for Insurance Policy and Research said that “the one concern” that insurers “consistently raise as they consider whether to participate” in Obamacare markets in 2018 is uncertainty over the subsidies.

And even if they do participate, insurers have told state regulators “the uncertainty of this funding could add a 15-20% load to” premium rates “or even more.”

The letter, a version of which was also sent to leaders in the Senate, urged “the Administration to continue full funding for the cost-sharing reduction payments for 2017 and make a commitment that such payments will continue, unless the law is changed.”

Andy Slavitt, who oversaw Obamacare for the Obama administration, told CNBC, “The insurance commissioners know, politics aside, ordinary Americans are going to be hurt by these policies.”

“The Trump Administration can only try to break the ACA and [flout] the law for so long before everyone begins to squeal,” said Slavitt, who had been acting administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

People whose household incomes are less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level are eligible for the subsidies, which are different from the financial aid most Obamacare customers receive to lower their monthly premiums. To get the cost-sharing reductions, eligible customers must sign up for a so-called silver plan on government-run Obamacare exchanges.

Silver plans cover 70 percent of their customers’ health expenses, with customers being responsible for the balance out-of-pocket, if they are not eligible for cost-sharing assistance.

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported that a top Trump administration health official, Seema Verma, in April, suggested that insurers could receive the cost-sharing reduction funds from the government if insurers backed Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Verma, who is administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, “stunned insurance industry officials by suggesting a bargain: The administration would fund the CSRs if insurers supported the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act,” the LA Times reported.

The Times quoted CMS spokeswoman Jane Norris, after being asked about that claim, as denying Verma made any such quid pro quo suggestion.

“What she said at the … meeting in April was that no decisions had been made about CSRs,” Norris said.

On Friday, Norris told CNBC in an emailed statement, “The LA Times story is completely false. The assertion that Administrator Verma offered to fund the CSR in exchange for support for legislation is preposterous.”

Noam Levey, the Times reporter for that article, said, “I appreciate CMS’ comments, which we were happy to include in the article when they were provided. Others that we spoke to in the course of extensively researching the article had a different sense of that meeting. We felt it was important to report that.”

Homeless numbers down 43% (wtf?) and more locally spun “alternative facts”

In 2015 we posted a number of stories about the attempts to down play the seriousness of the homeless crisis in Eureka. Particularly, we tried to emphasize “who benefits from the systematic under count of homeless/houseless”.
Check out what we said back then and read today’s story in the Times-Standard and other sources we included.
Despite what you can see with your own eyes, you’re supposed to believe that homelessness is dramatically down in Humboldt?
Shake your head laughable!

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/who-benefits-from-the-systematic-under-count-of-the-houseless/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/07/25/eureka-declares-victory-over-homelessness/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/housing-plan-will-never-amount-to-more-than-a-piss-into-the-ocean/

https://tuluwatexaminer.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/crime-the-homeless-and-the-andrew-mills-conundrum/

 

Times-Standard story: Homeless survey scrutinized

County, organizations state lack of volunteers, housing efforts led to lower count

Humboldt County has seen a large reduction in its homeless population, according to preliminary data released this week, with county officials attributing the drop to collaborative rehousing efforts, but also a reduction in volunteers who participated in the survey.

“We know this isn’t a scientifically accurate count of every homeless person in the county. It’s never been intended to be,” Humboldt County Housing Coalition co-Chairwoman and county Department of Health and Human Services Senior Program Manager Sally Hewitt said Friday. “It gives us a brief picture of a point in time with what is going on in our homeless population.”

This year’s Point-in-Time survey counted 668 homeless individuals on Feb. 28 compared to the 1,180 in the last count in 2015 and the 864 in 2013. The survey is conducted on a single day every two years and is a requirement to receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Hewitt said part of the reduction is due to 217 chronically homeless individuals having found permanent housing since Eureka and the county began implementing a Housing First approach to homelessness in early 2016 with the help of local landlords. Hewitt said the preliminary data also showed the number of homeless families have continued to decline as they had in the previous three counts.

However, this year’s count did not include any of the homeless population in the Garberville area after a group of regular survey volunteers refused to participate based on concerns that the funding was not helping the southern Humboldt County homeless population.

Debra Carey, vice president of Affordable Homeless Housing Alternatives, or AHHA, said she had been one of the volunteers who coordinated the Garberville-area county for several years. But this year, Carey said she felt that the county lacked the necessary preparation. She said she and many of the homeless individuals she had spoken to had become disgruntled that the government funding that these counts were supposed to generate were not reaching their community.

“What is this count all about if it’s not about getting the numbers to get the funds to assist this group of people?” Carey said.

Hewitt said the Department of Housing and Urban Development requires counties to deliver their counts in order to access funding available through Continuums of Care, like the county’s housing coalition. The coalition formed in 2004 and is composed of local government agencies and other entities that seek to reduce homelessness.

The amount of federal funding a community receives is not determined by the number of homeless individuals counted, but rather by “an extremely complicated process” involving reviewing data of available jobs and population sizes, according to Hewitt. However, Hewitt said the Point-in-Time count can be used by organizations to try and leverage funding from the state.

As to why southern Humboldt County communities are not receiving the federal funding, Hewitt said that the funding is only available for ongoing programs such as Redwood Community Action Agency, Arcata House Partnership, the county and Humboldt Bay Housing. The majority of the federal funding must be used for subsidizing rent and only a small portion can be used for administrative costs, which Hewitt said can be a limiting factor for small grassroots organizations.

“If there was a group in some of the outlying areas that had the infrastructure to handle the amount of funding, it would be wonderful for them to apply,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said that county volunteers did attempt to survey Garberville homeless residents, but said that none were willing to be surveyed.

AHHA President Nezzie Wade did participate in this year’s count in Eureka, but said she did so not in her capacity with her organization. Like Carey, Wade said she felt that the federal funds were only being used to help a small number of people in the homeless communities. She and Carey also expressed concerns about the size of the survey and the lack of planning by the coalition for this year’s count, which is why AHHA did not associate itself with it.

“The month before it was supposed to happen, they started talking about it,” Wade said of the count. “… We talked about it and said this is not an organized effort. This is not something we would not want to subscribe to.” Hewitt said that AHHA’s concerns were valid, but that they did not tell the full story.

She said they had been planning this count a year earlier and were planning to use a new approach. Rather than having every homeless individual take surveys in order to be counted, Hewitt said they were planning on doing a head count and then scientifically selecting a sample of the homeless population to take the survey. They would then apply that data to entire homeless population. The coalition was proceeding with this plan until the last two months of 2016 when the Housing and Urban Development Department told them that they could not use that method, Hewitt said.

The department gave them the options of doing the count as they had in years past or doing an observation count. The latter option would take place from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. in January and would involve volunteers counting homeless individuals as they sleep.

“Well, in a city where they tend to sleep out in the open, it’s relatively easy to count people,” Hewitt said. “If you’re talking about going into the woods in Humboldt County in the dark and wandering around with a flashlight and trying to get homeless people awake enough to see how many there are in their tent or having to open their tent flaps to count them, it just got more and more ridiculous.”

After back and forth disputes, Hewitt said the coalition decided in January to perform the count as they had done since 2009.

“We were scrambling and we were looking for every volunteer we could,” Hewitt said. “I’m glad some of [the AHHA members] decided to participate because we count on them.”

Hewitt said more than 100 volunteers participated, with about 80 acting as surveyors.

Wade also stated that police enforcement on homeless individuals may have led to reduced numbers in this year’s report. Wade said she had contacted many of the homeless individuals living along Broadway in Eureka and nearby cross streets to let them know about the count. But Wade said these streets were near empty by the time they surveyed the area on Feb. 28, and said that many of the homeless were told by police that they could not stay there for the next three days.

“That was quite a coincidence,” Wade said.

Eureka Police Department Public Information Officer Brittany Powell said that Chief Andrew Mills had heard from the county that there was a rumor that a law enforcement agency — but not the EPD — had cleared out the homeless individuals.(sounds like a Mills tactic to the Examiner)

“We have not heard anything more about this and there is nothing to substantiate the allegation,” Powell wrote in an email to the Times-Standard. “EPD and the (Mobile Intervention & Services Team) assisted in the Point-in-Time count prior to the actual count by providing training, resources, and identifying locations to check.”

http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20170519/humboldt-county-homeless-survey-scrutinized

more local spin:

https://www.northcoastjournal.com/NewsBlog/archives/2017/05/19/no-homeless-people-in-southern-humboldt

http://kiem-tv.com/video/annual-homeless-count-decreases

https://lostcoastoutpost.com/2017/may/18/humboldts-homeless-numbers-down-43-percent-two-yea/

 

“No. No. Next question,”……….. somebody’s lyin’ and lyin’ and……….

Donald Trump just staked his presidency on 4 words

Washington (CNN)At a joint news conference with Colombian President Juan Manual Santos Thursday, President Donald Trump was asked a very simple question: Had he urged then-FBI Director James Comey to slow or stop an FBI investigation into deposed national security adviser Michael Flynn?

“No. No. Next question,” Trump responded.

It was over in a flash. But in those four words, Trump staked the viability of his presidency.

Why? Because he directly contradicted the reporting around a memo that Comey had written in the wake of a February 14 meeting in which Trump told him to see if he could find a way to end the Flynn investigation, The New York Times first reported and CNN confirmed.

Both of those things can’t be true.

Comey, who was fired by Trump 10 days ago, is expected at some point in the not-too-distant future to come to Congress and testify about his meetings with Trump. And the relevant congressional committees have already requested the February 14 memo as well as any other memos — and CNN has reported there are more of them — that Comey wrote about his interactions with Trump.

Between his testimony and the memo(s), Comey’s side of the story is going to get out there. And, presuming that what we know of the February 14 memo is true, then Trump’s former FBI director will be on record directly disagreeing with the President’s version of events.

By issuing such a blanket denial, Trump leaves himself very little wiggle room. In order for Trump to emerge unscathed, there can be no evidence that emerges that props up Comey’s side of the story. Anything that shows Trump was not being entirely truthful with his “no, no, next question” response calls into question his credibility on a whole range of issues and could well lead to open revolt from within his own party.

Trump’s situation here is not dissimilar to that of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the early Trump converts. After the news broke that two of Christie’s top gubernatorial aides had been involved in a political payback ploy that involved closing lanes of traffic in Fort Lee, New Jersey, Christie went on record to say he was totally unaware of any of this plotting.

Had anything come out that proved Christie even slightly wrong in that total denial, it would have been curtains for his political career. It never did — and Christie survived. (As it was, the Bridgegate scandal badly hamstrung Christie and he never was a real factor in the 2016 race.)

In short: The story of the February 14 meeting is currently a “he said, he said” one. If it never progresses beyond that, Trump will almost certainly survive, politically speaking. There will be plenty of grumbles from Republicans — many of whom are on the record praising Comey as a trustworthy guy and able public servant — but short of evidence that tilts the scales in Comey’s favor, it will be very hard to abandon Trump.

If, on the other hand, tapes — like the sort Trump floated he might have of his conversations with Comey — or any other sort of documented evidence emerges that poke holes in Trump’s four-word denial, he and his presidency will be in deep trouble.

Donald Trump is a gambler by nature. Repeatedly during his presidential campaign, and now in the White House, he has rolled the dice and reacted once they settled. But, whether he realized it at the time or not, Trump placed the biggest bet of his political career on Thursday.
From CNN

Boston Globe Fact Checks:

Donald Trump’s latest assertions about the Russia investigation are questionable on a number of fronts.

For one, he’s claiming his political adversaries agree with him that there was no collusion between his presidential campaign and Russians. His critics are not at all convinced of that.

He’s also appearing to shift some responsibility for the firing of FBI chief James Comey to a Justice Department official. Earlier, he’d claimed sole ownership of that decision.

Joining Colombian counterpart Juan Manuel Santos in a news conference Thursday, the president also misstated the record on jobs and a violent national gang as well as on the matter that prompted the Justice Department a day earlier to appoint a special counsel with wide-ranging powers to investigate the Trump campaign and Russia.

THE FACTS: Democrats have not absolved Trump on whether his campaign and Russian officials coordinated efforts last year to disadvantage his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Several have said they have not seen evidence of collusion, but that’s not to say they are satisfied it did not happen.

Trump has cited James Clapper, the director of national intelligence until Trump took office Jan. 20, among others, as being ‘‘convinced’’ there was no collusion.

Clapper said this week that while a report he issued in January did not uncover collusion, he did not know at the time that the FBI was digging deeply into ‘‘potential political collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians’’ and he was unaware of what the bureau might have found. The FBI inquiry continues, as do congressional investigations and, now, one by the special counsel.

—On his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey: ‘‘I actually thought when I made that decision — and I also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein.’’

THE FACTS: The recommendation Trump cites behind his decision was written after he’d already made up his mind, according to Rosenstein and to Trump’s own previous statement.

In an interview with NBC two days after the May 9 Comey dismissal, Trump said he had been planning to fire Comey for months, and linked it with the FBI’s Russia probe, saying, ‘‘In fact when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’’

On Thursday, Rosenstein told senators in a closed-door briefing that he had been informed of Trump’s decision to fire Comey before he wrote his memo providing a rationale for that act, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

—Speaking of the MS-13 gang presence in the U.S.: ‘‘A horrible, horrible large group of gangs that have been let into our country over a fairly short period of time. … They’ve literally taken over towns and cities of the United States.’’

 

THE FACTS: His depiction of the gang as a foreign one ‘‘let into’’ the U.S. is not accurate.

The gang actually began in Los Angeles, according to a fact sheet from Trump’s own Justice Department, and ‘‘spread quickly across the country.’’ And it started not recently, but in the 1980s according to that same fact sheet.

The department indirectly credits the Obama administration, in its early years, with helping to rein in the group, largely made up of first-generation Salvadoran-Americans and Salvadoran nationals. It said: ‘‘Through the combined efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement, great progress was made diminishing or severely (disrupting) the gang within certain targeted areas of the U.S. by 2009 and 2010.’’

The U.S. carried out record deportations during the Obama administration and, on MS-13 specifically, took the unprecedented action of labeling the street gang a transnational criminal organization and announcing a freeze on its U.S. assets. Such actions were not enough to bring down the group and the Trump administration says it will do more.

—”You look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced.’’ — Thursday news conference

— ‘‘Jobs are pouring back into our country.’’ — speech Wednesday to the Coast Guard Academy

— ‘‘I inherited a mess. … Jobs are pouring out of the country.’’ — February news conference

— ‘‘Car companies coming back to U.S. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!’’ — on Twitter, after Ford took steps to add about 800 jobs in the U.S. in January and March

THE FACTS: Trump’s rhetoric about jobs has changed, but the actual data about hiring haven’t. Job gains have been solid since Trump was inaugurated, averaging 185,000 a month from January through April, according to government figures. But that is the same pace of hiring as occurred in 2016, when Barack Obama was president, and slower than in 2014 and 2015, when more than 225,000 jobs a month were added, on average.

As for Ford, context is everything. After hailing the addition of some 800 jobs, Trump was silent after Ford announced Wednesday it plans to cut 1,400 non-factory jobs in North America and Asia. That will most likely outweigh the jobs added earlier.

Overall, presidents typically get far more credit or blame for the state of the economy than they deserve, economists say. And it is particularly unlikely that any president would have an impact after just four months on the job. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from taking credit.

‘‘Great jobs report today — it is all beginning to work!’’ he tweeted May 5, after the government reported that solid hiring in April had pushed the unemployment rate to a 10-year low. A spokesman said on the same day that ‘‘the president’s economic agenda of serious tax reform, slashing burdensome regulations, rebuilding our infrastructure and negotiating fairer trade deals is adding jobs.’’

While Trump, with the help of the GOP Congress, has taken some minor steps on deregulation, little progress has been made on taxes, infrastructure or trade.